Kilkenny volunteers urgently needed to befriend and support isolated, older people

Loneliness and social isolation can decrease life expectancy by ten years and results in people suffering mental health issues and moving into residential care years before those who are more socially active - Fact

Sean Keane

Reporter:

Sean Keane

Email:

sean.keane@kilkennypeople.ie

The pain of isolation - You can make a difference

The number of older people in Kilkenny has overtaken the number of young children for the first time ever.
This is putting a major strain on health services. Volunteers are playing a key role in counteracting this by befriending and supporting isolated, older people.
Record numbers of referrals are flooding into the Kilkenny Carlow Contact group, part of the Befriending & Support Organisation for Older People at The Butts Neighbourhood Hall.
An appeal for volunteers to help clear the waiting list of older people before winter has started.
The befriending service pairs those on their own with neighbours to ensure regular social contact and supports when needed.
The service has 130 volunteer befrienders and has also installed 200 personal protection alarms in the last year for older people living alone.
“Loneliness and social isolation can decrease life expectancy by ten years,” said said co-ordinator, Eleanor Doyle. “It results in people suffering mental health issues and moving into residential care years before those who are more socially active.
“Our volunteers support older people to live a full life by promoting independent living, tackling isolation, promoting a healthier lifestyle, giving a voice in things that affect them and helping to build confidence.
“ Recent studies indicate that lack of social interaction is as likely to cause early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day,” she added.
help
“All it takes is an hour of your time each week to visit an older person in their home.”
Interested volunteers can contact Eleanor, Mary or Eilish at 056-7772151 or visit kccontact.ie.
Kilkenny Carlow Contact is funded by the HSE older person services unit.